Seanad debates

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

2:30 pm

Photo of Maurice CumminsMaurice Cummins (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I am replying. The note continues:

...any power or control in relation to the performance in particular circumstances by the Agency of a function assigned to or by it under this Act", including the issuing and enforcement of licenses by the EPA. As such, it would be inappropriate for the Minister to discuss the specific case raised as he has no statutory role in the relevant EPA decision making process. The Department is aware that, following concerns raised about the emissions from the facility in question in Seanad Éireann on 9th July 2014, the EPA was requested by the previous Minister to prepare a report on the operation of the facility in question, and that a report was subsequently published on 13th May 2015, and is available to the public on the EPA website.

As regards the future of the EPA, it should be noted that an independent Review of the EPA was carried out by an expert Review Group and was presented to the Minister in May 2011. The Report's general finding was that the EPA overall has provided "considerable benefit for Ireland's environment and for the health and well-being of its people". The EPA Review report, which is available from www.epa.iemade a total of 58 recommendations, with an implementation plan developed to address these. A progress report on the implementation of the recommendations was published in August 2014, which shows that substantial progress has been made in terms of their implementation. Of the 58 recommendations, 43 have been fully completed/implemented with the remaining 15 being addressed either as on-going activities or still needing to be progressed for completion. Also, in the context of the Government's programme to reduce and rationalise statutory bodies, the EPA was further restructured as recently as 1st August 2014, when it was merged with the former Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).

In the circumstances, there are no plans to undertake any further restructuring of the EPA at this time, though it is the case that public bodies under the aegis of the Department are kept under regular, on-going review, and are also subject to scrutiny by the Oireachtas.

The Minister is confident that the EPA will continue to meet its mandate to safeguard and improve Ireland's environment.

That is the reply which I received from the Department as the Order of Business progressed. I cannot facilitate a debate on it and while I saw the programme and certainly have grave reservations regarding the situation, I cannot support the amendment to the Order of Business as tabled in view of the Department's reply.

Senator Mullins outlined his support for the families affected by flooding and commended all the emergency services and voluntary workers. In addition, he outlined the damage to roads and the need for all local authorities to contact the Department and submit the reports requested of them by it.

Senator Barrett congratulated all the winners, as well as all the contestants, in the Young Scientist Exhibition. It truly was remarkable and wonderful to see so many young people involved in this event.


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